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The Best Breastfeeding Positions


woman breastfeeding on couch using the MyBrestFriend pillow
Breastfeeding Blog

September 14, 2015

A closer bond is often experienced by many breastfeeding mothers, and by choosing to nourish your child in this way, you have also made a choice to give your baby the best and healthiest option possible. While some mothers may be faced with challenges during night time feedings or periods of exhaustion in the first months of their babies’ lives, the breastfeeding positions below have been known to help mothers meet these challenges and enhance the benefits of breastfeeding in many ways.

The Traditional Cradling Position

While this position may come most naturally for mom and baby, if your baby is smaller or has trouble latching on [interlink to article ‘Top Techniques to get your newborn to latch-on’] this may not be the best position for nursing. Your baby will be on its back horizontally and resting comfortably. If you’re feeding from the left breast, its head will rest in the crook of that same arm. The rest of your arm will be under the baby’s back and you’ll need to make sure that its spine, neck and head are fully supported while its nose is in line with the nipple from which they are feeding.

An Alternate Cradle Position

In this position, the hand opposite the breast your baby feeds from is supporting their head, and the rest of your arm supports their body. This may be more comfortable for smaller or premature babies. If you use this position or the traditional cradle position, a breastfeeding pillow can come in very handy. During the first few days (or weeks) of breastfeeding, your baby will likely be feeding for 30-40 minutes per session as baby learns and gets used to the process. Breastfeeding support like a pillow as well as entertainment and snacks close by is essential so you won’t have to get up when baby needs to rest, or you need a bit of sustenance or distraction in the middle of feeding. You’ll be able to lay them down safely without interrupting feeding if you have a breastfeeding pillow on hand.

“Like a Football” Position

You may have heard about holding your baby “like a football” and this is actually one of the positions used in breastfeeding as well as every day. Mom puts her arm under her baby and supports them using her palm on their back and to support their head. Lay them down on a pillow next to you with their head at the end pointing down toward your feet, then put your arm underneath them and bring them up to your breast with their nose in line with the nipple, holding them similar to the way you would a football.

Relax and Snuggle Position

This position is where your breastfeeding pillow comes in most handy, along with as many others as you can find! In the middle of the night or when mom and baby (or just mom) are really exhausted, mom can lay on her side propped up with pillows behind her and the baby is laid on their side next to her at her breast, using the breastfeeding pillow to keep them in place. Bring your arm over your head to cradle your baby’s head and make sure it is properly placed at your breast as they feed.

Utilize Your Support System

Breastfeeding support is incredibly important, especially in the first few weeks of their life. As you’re learning which positions are best for your baby, you may need a lactation specialist to help you if he’s having trouble no matter what position you try and there may be other alternative positions that are better for them or any specific health conditions your baby may have. Be sure to educate yourself as much as possible, ask questions whenever you have them, and don’t be discouraged if things get difficult for you or your baby. There is a lot of breastfeeding information [interlink to article ’20 Facts about Breastfeeding You Didn’t Know’] out there, and whatever your issues may be, there are answers to help make the process work for both of you!